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Supreme Court Extends Tenure of Judicial And Administrative Members Of CAT, Kolkata Bench

Sohini Chowdhury
23 Sep 2022 1:06 PM GMT
Supreme Court Extends Tenure of Judicial And Administrative Members Of CAT, Kolkata Bench

In a plea filed by the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) Bar Association Kolkata seeking filling up of vacancies at the Kolkata Bench of CAT, the Supreme Court, on Friday, extended the terms of one Judicial Member and one Administrative Member, who are at present running the said Tribunal, till further orders.

"We direct that subject to the availability of the Judicial Member, Ms. Bidisha Banerjee and the administrative member, Dr. Nandita Chatterjee their terms shall be extended till further orders, until fresh appointments are made to fill up posts of Judicial Members and Administrative Members in the Kolkata Bench of the Administrative Tribunal."

The term of office of the Judicial Member, Ms. Bidisha Banerjee had expired on 14th September, 2022 and her term as well as that of the Administrative Member, Dr. Nandita Chatterjee had been extended till 29th September, 2022 by an order of the Apex Court.

A Bench comprising Justices D.Y. Chandrachud and Hima Kohli noted that the CAT, Kolkata Bench has a sanctioned strength of 4 members - 2 Judicial Members and 2 Administrative Members. It was apprised that at present only one regular judicial member has been appointed whose term would expire on 23rd August, 2026.

Additional Solicitor General, Mr. Balbir Singh implored the Bench to not extend the term of the Judicial Members as the Chairperson of CAT can depute anyone to the said post.

"CAT chairman can depute anyone so please do not extend the Judicial Member's tenure."

Justice Chandrachud told the ASG, "We will list it after 2 weeks, by then tell us that the appointments have been made."

During the course of the hearing Mr. Singh had informed the Bench that the proposal for appointment of 17 Administrative Members across the country has been submitted to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet. He added that the approval is expected to come within 2 weeks.

"So far, the Search-cum-Selection Committee has already approved 17 names for Administrative Members. That has gone to the competent authority in the last week of July. We are expecting next week or week thereafter we will have 17 names available and one will go to Calcutta."

Justice Chandrachud reckoned, "Why? In a small tribunal you keep one vacant?"

The Counsel appearing on behalf of the CAT Bar Association, Kolkata submitted that the sitting members are still holding office only by virtue of the extension order of the Apex Court. The extension so granted would come to an end on 29th September, 2022. He emphasised that 3 States would be affected if the CAT, Kolkata Bench becomes dysfunctional.

The Bench will now take up the matter after 4 weeks. While fixing the next date of hearing, Justice Chandrachud had remarked -

"We will list after 4 weeks. You (Counsel for the petitioner Bar Association) come after (Durga) Puja, you have a good Puja now."

On 29.08.2022, the Apex Court had issued notice in the present plea, on being informed that there is only one Judicial Member at the Tribunal, whose term is to expire on 14.09.2022.

[Case Title: CAT Bar Association Kolkata And Anr. v. UoI And Ors. WP(C) No. 662/2022]

Click Here To Read/Download Order

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